Monday, February 4, 2008
Several posts have focused on the Wesley Snipes case, the trial and the verdict (see here, here, and here). Actor Snipes was convicted on 3 misdemeanor tax counts, but acquitted on all other charged conduct including a count charging conspiracy. As previously discussed, the conspiracy count may have had a venue basis when charged, as venue can be found in either the place of the agreement or where any of the acts occurred. But the tax counts have been argued as improper from the initial days.
Can the two be separated? One case, United States v. Ebersole, 411 F.3d 517 (4th Cir. 2005) does a good job of noting an important policy argument in this area of law -
"The Supreme Court has cautioned that the question of venue in a criminal case is more than a matter 'of formal legal procedure'; rather, it raises 'deep issues of public policy in the light of which legislation must be construed.' United States v. Johnson, 323 U.S. 273, 276 (1944). The Court also has observed that the venue provisions of the Constitution are meant to act as safeguards, protecting the defendant from bias, disadvantage, and inconvenience in the adjudication of the charges against him. Travis v. United States, 364 U.S. 631, 634 (1961) (citing U.S. Const. Art. III, § 2 (pertaining to venue)); U.S. Const. amend. VI (pertaining to jury trials)."
Was Snipes biased and disadvantaged here? Does the fact that the jury venire that he as selecting jurors was all-white make a difference?
For comments from Paul Caron's Tax Prof Blog, see here.